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Opinion: Illegality of appointment of South Sudan representatives to the Pan African Parliament

By Luke Thompson,

May 28, 2021 – This short article seeks to shed some light on the illegality of appointment of South Sudan representatives to the Pan African Parliament (PAP) by the Clerk of South Sudan National Legislative Assembly. It shall discuss briefly the operative provisions of the protocol relating to the treaty establishing the African economic community of the African Union relating to the Pan African Parliament. Special emphasis shall be given to the provisions of the protocol governing composition and election of members of the Pan African Parliament, articles; 4(1), 4(2) 4(3), and 5(1) through 5(6).

On May 12, 2021, the Clerk of South Sudan National Assembly, wrote to his counterpart of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) informing him that;

  1. A decision to reconstitute the delegation of South Sudan to the Pan African Parliament is reached by RTNLA;
  2. A  new membership of South Sudan delegation to PAP is reconstituted in line with Article 4 and 5 of the protocol to the treaty establishing the African economic community of the African union relating to the Pan African Parliament;
  3. The delegation is comprised of five (5) members, four (4) from the ruling party including one (1) female as well as  one (1) opposition representative;
  4. The list of members is as below;

4.1. Amb. Albino Mathom Ayuel    Ruling Party

4.2. Amb. Emmanuel lowilla           Ruling Party

4.3. Domain Gatpan kulang             Ruling Party

4.4. Sophia Pal Gai                            Ruling Party

4.5. Mabior Riiny Lual                     Opposition

  1. And that on behalf of the RTNLA, I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you and the Pan African Parliament the assurances of my highest consideration.

The above quoted excerpts from the letter of the RTNLA Clerk to his Pan African counterpart are a mockery to the intelligence of South Sudanese public as well as that of the official to whom the letter was addressed to. In fact, the lies embedded in that communication flouted the provisions of article 4 and 5 of the protocol upon which the Clerk premised his letter. These lies are deconstructed as hereunder to the extent of their gravity ;

Article 4(1) of the protocol stipulates that, “Until the Assembly decides otherwise, each State Party shall be represented in the Pan African Parliament by an equal number of parliamentarians. Reading the provision of 4(1) together with item (3), from excerpts of the letter quoted above, the Clerk conformed to the letter and spirit of the protocol. However, the problem lies with the requirement of art 4(2) which provides that, “The membership of the Pan African Parliament shall comprise five (5) members elected by the National Parliament of each State Party”. The clerk’s letter purporting that a decision to reconstitute the delegation of South Sudan to PAP is reached by the Revitalized Transitional National Legislative Assembly is an utter lie. The National Assembly is not legitimately convened yet. Hence, it cannot conduct any business including the power vested in it by art 4(2) of the protocol. 

Again, on his appointment/nomination of only one (1) women among the delegation, he contravened the provision and requirement of Article 4(3) of the protocol which provides that, “at least two (2) of the elected members, must be women. A delegation which does not satisfy this requirement shall not have the right to be accredited for representation in the parliament (PAP)”. As can be discerned from the letter of the clerk, his appointed five (5) delegates includes only one woman instead of two (2) as provided herein. This flagrant disregard to the requirement of art 4(3) would invalidate the accreditation of the delegation ab initio. It is only upon satisfaction of 4(3) that the accreditation of the South Sudan delegation to the continental Parliament can be effectuated.  Only he can give more explanation and rationale as to why he chose to deviate from a provision which has such a direct implication on the accreditation of his appointed delegation, if that power were to have been vested in him.

Article 5(1A) of the protocol demands that “the National parliament or other deliberative body shall elect, from outside its membership, five (5) members of the Pan African Parliament”. This article vests the sole power of conducting election, not appointment of the members to the Pan African Parliament on the National Parliament of the state party, which in this case, is our recently Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly. However, since the national assembly is not convened yet and pending administration of oaths upon its members, it cannot whatsoever, exercise the power vested in it by article 5(1A) of the protocol, since it is still lacking dejure legitimacy. This article lends preference to the candidates seeking election to Pan African Parliament to individuals other than members of the National Parliament of each State Party.

 It is my humble prayer that the honorable Clerk of the National Assembly rescind his letter. It is dead on arrival and any wild wishes from the clerk or by any other quarters inclined towards entertaining an illusionary legitimacy in the said communication is tantamount to intellectual poverty. Similarly, art 5(1B) demands that political parties comprising the national parliament be represented among the five (5) delegates to the Pan African Parliament on the basis of their numerical strength in parliament. Why skip SPLM-IO whose strength in RTNLA is second to the ruling party? Sick.

Furthermore, Art 5(6) states that, “For the avoidance of doubt, a member of a National Parliament or other deliberative body is eligible to contest an election to the Pan African Parliament. However, if elected, he or she shall resign from the National Parliament or other deliberative body”. The legal implications of Art 5(1A) and 5(6) is that no one can enjoy simultaneous and concurrent membership in both the Pan African Parliament and a National Parliament of the State Parties. Now that all those delegated to the Pan African Parliament are already members of the National Assembly, Will they also retain their seats at the National Parliament or will the requirement of the closing paragraph of 5(6) take precedence?

The  clerk failed to communicate to his counterpart and his readership  when, where and how the election required by the provisions of art 4 and 5 was conducted for the purpose of electing South Sudan representatives to the Pan African Parliament? What we saw in the letter is that the Clerk either conducted an imaginary election in an unknown location with unknown parliament in undisclosed time and more likely outside the territory of the republic South Sudan if at all the election contemplated in art 4 and 5 of the protocol ever took place. 

With these few remarks and in conclusion, it must be noted that the clerk of the national assembly flouted the provisions of both article 4 and 5 of the protocol unwittingly for reasons best known to him.

His communication must be revoked with the urgency the matter so requires and as soon as the national assembly is convened, it must conduct elections for the members of the Pan African Parliament in accordance with the requirements laid-down by authentic provisions of article 4 and 5 of the protocol.

Luke Thompson

Member, NLC – SPLM-IO

Juba, South Sudan

May 28, 2021  


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